Psychological Distress in Parents of Autistic Children in Baghdad City


Objectives: The study aims to: (1) assess psychological distress in parents of autistic children, (2) identify the relationship between psychological distress and parents' socio-demographic characteristics such as (age, marital status, relationship with child, educational level and monthly income) and (3) identify the relationship between parent's distress and some of children' socio-demographic characteristics such as (gender, age, birth order and mean number of children).Methodology: A descriptive–analytical study that was carried out from December 12th, 2011 to May 1st, 2012. on a purposive (non- probability) sample of 120 parents (father and mother) who have children with autism and send their children to the delayed care centers in Baghdad. Data were collected through the use of the constructed questionnaire and the process of the self-administrative report. The questionnaire was consisted of three parts: parents' socio-demographic characteristics, autistic children' socio-demographic, and parenting stress scale. Content validity of the instrument was determined through the use of panel experts and the internal consistency of the instrument was determined through the pilot study and the computation of Alpha Correlation Coefficient (r = 0.83). Data were analyzed through the application of descriptive and inferential statistical approaches by using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 16.0.Results: The findings revealed that most of sample were mothers in normal marital status who fall in the age group 26-35 years old graduated from institute or college and living in nuclear families with barely sufficient monthly income. Most of the children were firstborn male fall in the age group of 3-7 years and most of families have 1-3 children/family. Parents of autistic children are experiencing moderate level of parenting distress. There is strong negative relationship between parents' ages with family type and there is moderate relationship among other variables. There is positive relationship between parenting stress, child's gender and birth order and there is no relationship with other variables.Recommendations: The study recommended providing adequate knowledge for parents about how to deal with their child through sessions and brochure; focusing on coping strategies for parents with autistic child should be taken in consideration by media to decrease distress and further studies should be conducted as survey to include all over the country.